HC Deb 10 November 1983 vol 48 cc400-1
8. Rev. Martin Smyth

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what support the Northern Ireland Office is giving to individuals and groups seeking to counter adverse Republican propaganda internationally.

Mr. Prior

We provide extensive briefing and advice on Northern Ireland for individuals and groups visiting the United States and other countries, and diplomatic posts are also ready to provide guidance on the spot. I have myself recently returned from a visit to the United States.

Rev. Martin Smyth

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer, as it backs up some of the developments, especially his speech on the west coast of America. Is this not particularly important in view of the recent court decision and the statements thereon, and is it not important that we continue to keep up the pressure to put our case across?

Mr. Prior

Yes, everything that can be done needs to be done. I found that there was a growing understanding of the problems of the United Kingdom in its attitude to Northern Ireland. But, for all that, I have found some of the remarks of the last few hours extremely offensive.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Has my right hon. Friend assured himself that there is the fullest co-ordination of this support between his Department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, because there is always a danger of falling between two stools when two Departments are involved?

Mr. Prior

I saw the consuls-general in Boston, San Franciso and Los Angeles, each of whom has within his consul an Ulsterman working full time on behalf of Ulster, both on the inward investment side and in putting forward the Ulster view. I was impressed with the quality of those people and the interest that the consuls-general were showing.

Dr. Mawhinney

Will my right hon. Friend ask the American Government to appeal against the sentence recently delivered on Owen Canon and Danny Morrison, more effectively to counteract the adverse propaganda and publicity?

Mr. Prior

This was a bizarre affair from beginning to end. That is the only word that I can use to describe it. We must draw a sharp distinction between the views of the Administration and those of the Department of Justice in this respect. Whether or not there are any further representations from us about the appeal is a matter for our contacts with the Administration, although I hope that I have expressed the view of the House on the remarks made following that trial.